Near Avery in Shoshone County, Idaho — The American West (Mountains)
The Mighty Quills
The Unknown Locomotive
Called the “unkown” locomotive by some rail enthusiasts, few people now recognize the heavyweight of the Milwaukee’s Rocky Mountain Division, the Baldwin-Westinghouse EP-3.
Between 1919 and 1955, these big motors pulled passenger trains over the rugged Rocky, Belt and Bitterroot Mountain Ranges between Harlowton, Montana and Avery, Idaho.
The Milwaukee purchased ten EP-3’s, each weighing 283 tons, standing 17 feet high, 88 feet 7 inches long and rating 4,200 horsepower. They were called “Quills” because their axles were enclosed in a hollow tube, or quill.
The Quill’s long rigid mainframe proved to be a poor design. It took curves badly, was derailment prone and maintenance intensive. With the purchase of the “Little Joes” in the early 1950’s the Quills were quickly scrapped.
“It’s a shame that it is lost forever and anyone who didn’t get to ride it will never have a chance again. I would sit at the window for hours watching the Westinghouse each time it swung into a curve on my side…The ride behind a Westinghouse was exceptionally smooth both uphill and down… It was no wonder that the big motors were favored and respected by employees who worked with them.” H.H. “Bill” Wilkerson,
President Warren G. Harding behind the controls of Westinghouse 10305, which he operated between Sappington, Montana and Avery, Idaho on July 2nd 1923.
His cross-country trip took him to Alaska where he became ill. President Harding passed away in San Francisco one month to the day after this photograph was taken.
Location. 47° 20.453′ N, 115° 37.676′ W. Marker is near Avery, Idaho, in Shoshone County. Marker can be reached from Loop Creek Road (Federal Road 506) 4 miles west of Cliff Creek Road (Federal Road 326). Touch for map. Located along the Route of the Hiawatha Trail. Marker is in this post office area: Avery ID 83802, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Johnson’s Big Cut (approx. 0.2 miles away); Olympian Luxury (approx. ¼ mile away); The Olympian Hiawatha (approx. ¼ mile away); The Traveler (approx. 0.3 miles away); Electrified (approx. 0.3 miles away); Milwaukee Road Muscle (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Big Blowup (approx. half a mile away); The 1910 Fires (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Avery.
More about this marker. On the upper left is a photo with the caption, "An east-bound Olympian rumbles across Russell Creek Trestle on a clear October day in 1929. The steel trestles over Small Creek and Barnes Creek are across the valley, with two filled wooden trestles in the distance." Both photographs courtesy Washington State Historical Society
Also see . . . Route of the Hiawatha Rail Trail. (Submitted on August 5, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
Categories. • Railroads & Streetcars •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 5, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 498 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on August 5, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.